Alto Weekly Online Edition
Sept. 12, 2001, 11 a.m.
Schools help parents talk to kids
Tips for dealing with crisis
by Jennifer Deitz Berry
Assistant Superintendent Irv Rollins said unless events change,
the schools will remain open, "as we feel that the community looks
to us for a sense of security and a sense of stability."
He said district officials remain in close contact with city and
Rollins said school psychologists and counselors at every school
are on alert, and will be available to meet with children who find
the events troubling.
"While we urge you to send your children to school, should you
prefer to keep your student home, please let your school secretary/attendance
clerk know. The district will excuse these absences," said Interim
Superintendent Robert Golton.
All schools will be sending home a letter to parents at the end
of the day, explaining how events were handled and offering tips
on talking with children about the tragedy.
Ruth Malen, principal at Duveneck Elementary School, said her
school's goal has been to "maintain normal routines and structures
at school and to encourage parents to do the same at home."
She said teachers were sent a memo before school giving them discretion
to talk with children in their classes about the events, as seemed
appropriate. Generally speaking, older children have wanted to spend
more time discussing the events, while younger children have needed
only brief explanations, Malen said.
Malen offered the following tips for parents on how to talk with
children about the tragedy. The information will also be included
in letters home.
1) Be supportive and reassure children that they are safe at school
and at home.
2) Minimize children's exposure to television coverage of the
events, as the news can often exacerbate their concerns and confusion.
3) If children are watching television coverage, ensure adults
are also watching to explain and mediate what the child is hearing.
4) As appropriate their children's age and maturity, parents should
discuss the events and feelings that develop. As appropriate, discuss
the events with the child.
Malen also cautions parents against providing children with more
information than they're emotionally prepared to handle: "The basic
thing for grown-ups to think about with kids, in any situation,
is not to volunteer excessive information. Let children's questions
be their guide."